The other day I mentioned that when some of the office bookshelves collapsed, I found my copies of three books by Jack Douglas that I'd been looking for. I discovered Douglas's books back in 1959 or 1960, and at the time I thought they were hilarious. So last night I decided to see if they were still funny after 45 years or so and picked up Never Trust a Naked Bus Driver. The title is either funny or sage advice. Or both.
The cover has a pretty good likeness of Douglas on it. He was a frequent guest on The Tonight Show back when Jack Parr was the host, so I remember what he looked like. And the book is just as strange as I remembered. It's very short, only 116 pages, and some of the pages have very little written on them. Chapter 42, for example, is nothing more than a sign that says, "This is your Submarine. Keep It Tidy." And in fact, chapter might be the wrong word, as it implies some kind of continuity. There's no continuity in the book. Each "chapter" is a separate entity containing things like notes, playbills, diary entries, reminiscenses, one-liners, and so on. My favorite chapter begins with another sign: "Kick the Happiness Habit -- Become a Writer."
So does the book still make me laugh? Sure, in places. It's not as funny to me as it was long ago, however, which is a shame. I figure the book hasn't changed. So it must be me.